Everything posted here is worth thinking about. On the other hand, the ideas and opinions put forth may not be right.
Curated and annotated by Timoni West.
Jeff Eaton, Is That So Hard?.
Nice reminder that the humans are not dumb: the world is complicated, and we all take mental shortcuts.
From The Belle Jar
Organizational sociologists call these beliefs “rational myths,” convictions about how things should be done that are widely shared but not necessarily accurate. Back when work revolved around the power loom and the assembly line, centralized schedules and locations made sense. The 40-hour work week, time-oriented management practices, and our beliefs about them, became institutionalized during this period.
But a lot of what we believe about the right kind of workplace is wrong. Studies show that people who have control over when and where they work are more productive and have better morale and loyalty.
…But what about the collaborations and creativity from water-cooler conversations?
These conversations actually may encourage groupthink rather than innovation. Studies show that people tend to network, cooperate and collaborate with others like themselves, so hallway conversations may merely result in interactions among those who think alike. It’s the collaboration among diverse groups of people that fosters the most creative and cutting-edge thinking. Because virtual interactions through online chats and teleconferencing make personal similarities less obvious, these may be better than hallway conversations for cultivating innovation.
Benefit of office face time a myth, by Catherine Albison and Shelley Correll.
I’ve often worked in environments where major decisions weren’t made in meetings, but in hallways and casual conversations around desks. It works up to a point—about ten or so people in product, let’s say. But once the company gets bigger and communication is harder, it’s a bad practice.
Quick, efficient, unplanned conversations may feel comfortable and natural for those who make the decisions, but it’s incredibly frustrating to those who are left out. If product strategies are being set by friendly coworkers, the coworkers who are less liked are essentially powerless.
At one company it got so bad that I would feel anxious whenever I saw coworkers chatting near my desk; until I took off my headphones and joined in, I could never be sure they weren’t making product decisions that I’d find out about in an Asana comment later. This is particularly difficult for designers, who often layout detailed user flows within a specific, consistent framework—one change can affect the entire flow.
Being a friendly coworker, going out to lunch, and being part of those hallway conversations is generally considered a good practice—Networking 101. But keep in mind that those practices were set in place when offices were much more homogeneous, and benefit those who are most popular or powerful, not the best at their jobs. Also keep in mind, if you are the powerful, casual decision maker, that if you choose to keep the hallway meeting technique, the onus is on you to make sure you have hallway meetings with everyone—not just your favorite coworkers.
Identity and belief has been my recent academic obsession. This article is a nicely lays out some key fundamentals.
flowerflowerflowers’s comment on the Reddit thread “Racist, Sexist Comments on Imgur About Asians: What’s up with all the racist/sexist comments on imgur everytime there’s an Asian?”.
I post this because it rings true to me. I grew up in a town in Nebraska that was about 4994/5000 white. There were few opportunities to interact with other races, but that translated into few opportunities to be actively racist. Other than idolizing black rappers, which we all did, we had no idea of the subtle social differences that I have spent the rest of my life awkwardly bumping up against.